#OutlanderWeek: What is Outlander and why should I read it?

It’s no secret that I am a HUGE Outlander fan. You might not think it since I’ve only read the first book a handful of times (a full hand at that!) and I’m just on the fourth book in the so-far 8-book series. There are people out there, I’m sure, who have read all of the books in the series numerous times! Hats off to them because at 1,000+ pages for each book, that takes dedication.

I was absolutely bouncing off the walls when I watched the first episode of the TV series made for the books and I have to say that it really renewed my love for the series. While I wanted to dive first into yet another reread of Outlander, I decided to continue on with the series and am now really enjoying Drums of Autumn — so much, in fact, that I bought paperbacks for books 6 & 7 at the bookstore yesterday! I fully intend to get to the end of the series as soon as I can!

Outlander Week

Since I feel like I’ve been immersing myself in all things Outlander in the past week, I thought it’d be fun to have an Outlander Week on the blog! Because of my lack of scheduling, it’s brand new to me to not have the whole week scheduled, though I did write up an outline in Evernote:

Monday: What is Outlander?
Tuesday: New vs. Old Thoughts on the Books
Wednesday: The TV Show!
Thursday: Quote-Worthy
Friday: My Outlander Wishlist

I feel like there are a lot of people out there who are saying, “What IS this Outlander show/book all about? Why is it so great??” It’s easy to come back with a retort like, “Because it is!” but I thought I’d do a little more research than that.

outlanderWho is Diana Gabaldon, why did she write this book, and how does Doctor Who come into it?

With a book as good as this one — and I’m not the only one who thinks so; there are legions of fans all over the world for this series! — you might think that Gabaldon was an accomplished writer, diving into a new series for her already-devoted fans. But really, Gabaldon was a university assistant and wanted to get practice writing a novel and figured that historical fiction would be best. That way she could research and write and truly try her hand at this whole writing gig.

She had been watching Doctor Who (like every awesome person out there does), an old episode where the doctor’s companion was a character named Jamie, a Scot from around the time of 1745. He provided the inspiration for the character Jamie Fraser, as well as the 18th century setting of the story.

From Wikipedia:

Gabaldon decided to have “an Englishwoman to play-off all these kilted Scotsmen,” but her female character “took over the story and began telling it herself, making smart-ass modern remarks about everything.” To explain the character’s modern behavior and attitudes, Gabaldon chose to use time travel.

Writing the novel at a time “when the World Wide Web didn’t exist,” she did her research “the old-fashioned way, by herself, through books.” Later Gabaldon posted a short excerpt of her novel on the CompuServe Literary Forum, where author John E. Stith introduced her to literary agent Perry Knowlton. Knowlton represented her based on an unfinished first novel, tentatively titled Cross Stitch. Her first book deal was for a trilogy, the first novel plus two then-unwritten sequels.

And the rest, as they say, is history. The Outlander series currently has 8 books, as well as a spin-off series based on Lord John Grey, one of the characters in the story. Gabaldon’s stories have been published in 27 countries in 24 languages so far. Not bad for a story that started out as a practice novel.

What is the genre of the story? Isn’t it just a sappy romance? 

OK, yes the book has some very swoon-worthy characters, and yeah, it might have some very steamy sex scenes, but it’s so much more than that!

Here’s just a bit of what Outlander is all about:

See, NOT just a sappy romance.

So if there are 8 books in the series AND a spin off series, how should I read it? 

Diana has this all outlined on her website! Here’s what she says:

“The Outlander series includes three kinds of stories:

  1. The Big, Enormous Books that have no discernible genre (or all of them).
  2. The Shorter, Less Indescribable Novels that are more or less historical mysteries (though dealing also with battles, eels, and mildly deviant sexual practices).
    And…
  3. The Bulges—These being short(er) pieces that fit somewhere inside the story lines of the novels, much in the nature of squirming prey swallowed by a large snake. These deal frequently—but not exclusively—with secondary characters, are prequels or sequels, and/or fill some lacuna left in the original story lines.

Now. Most of the shorter novels (so far) fit within a large lacuna left in the middle of VOYAGER, in the years between 1757 and 1761. Some of the Bulges also fall in this period; others don’t.”

And, of course, after you read the stories, feel free to hop on over to Scotland for some Outlander-based tours.

Outlander Covers

Alright, maybe you’ve convinced me, but why is it so great? 

Again, I could just say that it is and just read it! But maybe some of these snippets from other reviews will convince you:

smash from smash attack reads says: 

“To me, the beauty of this story is the imperfection in Claire and Jamie’s relationship. No relationship is perfect, no matter how well the pair gets along. Jamie is just as stubborn as Claire, and they have some throw down fights. She stands up to him every inch of the way, and the in the end, she disobeys his wishes and fights for his life when he has just about given up. Claire is one strong, confident, amazing woman!

The book offers SO much for the reader: romance, history, adventure. fantasy, betrayal, loyalty…and a love that transcends time, people!

READ. IT.”

jenn of owl read it says: 

“I think that it’s a book that everyone should read, even if you don’t end up liking it, because it’s either one of those books that you love or hate (or so it seems), it will at least make you think and give you something to talk and rant to others about! Or if you love it like me, you get a nice long series of long books!”

kim from caffeinated book reviewer says: 

““Sassenach” is the sexiest term of endearment I have ever heard, “aye it is”. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon is one of the greatest books I have ever had the pleasure to listen to. The story some 800 plus pages long is a time traveling historical novel that left me breathless.”

jess from tangled up in reading says: 

“Diana Gabaldon writes beautifully atmospheric historical fiction. Not only is her prose stunning, but I was completely able to picture everything. I mean, I was there. I’m a huge fan of historical fiction, and sometimes when you get into lengthy books like this, you inevitably run into dry spots. Not so here. I don’t recall every having to struggle through.”

sarah from sarah says read says: 

“Even though this book is long (850 pages, actually), I enjoy every minute of it. There’s action, intrigue, love, history, men in kilts… it’s just amazing. My boyfriend is actually the one who talked me into reading this book, and it might just be the best thing he’s ever done for me. (He also went out and bought me each book in the series as I devoured them. What a sweet man.) I actually MISS these books when I’m not reading them. And they make me desparately want to go to Scotland. (I looked up plane tickets though – 1300 bucks one way. Bloody hell.)”

Have you read Outlander? How would you convince someone to read the story? Are there any other interesting tidbits on the history of the story that I might have missed?  

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21 thoughts on “#OutlanderWeek: What is Outlander and why should I read it?

  1. I love this post and can’t wait to see what you have in store for us throughout the week. Outlander is my favorite series and I am so excited about the show.

    Have you listened to the audio version? The narrator is absolutely fantastic!

  2. Looking forward to this week, though I am not quite as enthusiastic in my Outlander love, I am sticking with book 1 and am *mostly* enjoying it 🙂 My favourite part so far was when Claire finally tells Jamie that she’s from the future. There may have been some light swooning. Also liked the child birth scene with Jamie’s sister, and really glad Claire didn’t save the day on that one – would have been unrealistic.

  3. Hit submit too soon… the one thing I’m *not* getting is the “compelling” part: everyone says they can’t put it down, there’s so much action, it’s exciting… I don’t find that to be the case. I find it quite slow and a lot for the “action” is kind of unnecessary. A lot of wandering around, hanging out in barns, etc. I think part of it is due to the fact that I know there are 8 more books, so obviously Jamie and Claire aren’t in imminent danger of dying or splitting up for good.

    • Come on, though, you can’t think like that! How would you ever get through the first book in a series then? I just love it because of Jamie and Claire and the whole Claire going back in time bit. She’s such a great character! Like I said, though, there’s so much going on that I find it goes by quickly. I was just in love with Jamie the whole time! Ha ha …

      • I think you just need to forget about the fact that there are other books in the series and just let the suspense carry you through the story. I mean, there are books where I know OBVIOUSLY that people will get together in the end, or that it will end on a happy note, but I think you just have to lose yourself in the story and let go of all that. Yeah, it might be a little predictable, but if we let that take over our heads while reading a story, we’re not fully enjoying it, I think. Quit thinking about it and just read!

      • It’s picking up again! I’m about 80% through… Seems like we’re hitting the high point with the jail break but there’s still quite a few pages, so I’m interested to see where it goes.

        Reeeeaalll hard time suspending disbelief for Jamie’s sister riding a horse and tramping through the woods days after giving birth though 🙂

  4. This was a great post. Such an awesome introduction to the series! You should do more of these 😀

    Oh, and I watched the first episode of the show last night. HOOKED. Like, I was shocked at how much I enjoyed it (although it’s being made by Ronald D. Moore, the guy who made the new Battlestar, so I shouldn’t be that surprised).

    • Yay, Rick! I’m so glad the TV show hooked you! Maybe you should give the book a read and see what you think? 😉 I did see that the director of Battlestar Galactica did this one … I will say that I have my brother’s copies of Battlestar Galactice — and have had them for years and years — but I still haven’t watched it. I hear it’s a great show!

  5. Pingback: #OutlanderWeek: New vs. Old Thoughts on the Book | Reading In Winter

  6. Pingback: #OutlanderWeek: The TV Show! | Reading In Winter

  7. Pingback: #OutlanderWeek: Quote-Worthy | Reading In Winter

  8. Pingback: #OutlanderWeek: My Outlander Wishlist! | Reading In Winter

  9. I’ve never read these books but I have seen them around before, and I haven’t watched the show since we don’t have cable. I might try them out at some point though, based on your post and what other people have said they’re really good 🙂

My home is where my books are. - Ellen Thompson

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